Since I come from a teaching background, one of the things I am usually fighting is the tendency to present material and try to browbeat my clients into sticking to the material regardless of what the dynamic in the group may be or what is going on in the larger picture.
But the training had me thinking. When I look back at group sessions that really blew me away and made me feel like something magical had just happened, it had nothing to do with me or my precious handouts, it had to do with the clients and their willingness to be vulnerable in front of others. This requires a great deal of trust which does not always happen.
Perhaps the best group I ever was involved with happened several years ago with a group of federal mandated clients. These men and women had all done extensive prison time in the federal system. It helped that most of the group members had known each other for a long time and about half of them had done time together.
At one point, one of the two women in the group raised her hand and stated she was having a lot of stress. She nearly burst into tears when stating that she did not know whether or not she should take her child to visit his biological father in prison or not.
This started a wave of emotion from the men in the group as they each began to tell their own stories of missing their children while incarcerated, but also knowing that it was the best for them. There were a lot of tears and I sat back and watched it all happening in front of me.
It's hard to replicate that sort of thing, but I think it's something to shoot for in the future. The question is, can I learn to stay out of my own way?